- François-Xavier Branthôme
- 2023 Season
California Tomato Harvest Update: Paving the Way to 12.9 Million Tons.
Morning Star colleague James Sherwood brings you another TOMATO BITES by Morning Star update. This release delves into the August USDA California Tomato Processing Report, which reveals a significant forecast increase in paid short tons to 12.9 million tons, surpassing expectations with a 4% rise from January’s report. Despite facing a slow start, the California processing tomato industry is making strides toward its harvest goal, showing promise for bolstering inventories and ensuring a reliable supply for domestic and global markets.
This is James Sherwood from Morning Star with your September, 2023, Tomato Bite updates.
The new USDA California Tomato Processing report released on August 30th, increased paid tonnage to 12.9 million tons (11.72 million t), 4% higher than the January estimate. This update is a result of a net yield increase on 254,000 acres (102,800 ha), and an average yield of 50.8 tons per acre (113.9 t/ha). Through September 2nd, 5.5 million tons have been harvested.
To meet the 12.9 million ton estimate, we need to harvest 4.2 million tons in September at full capacity. We need another three plus weeks of full capacity through October to achieve the 12.9 million ton estimate. Historically, by the end of August, we have achieved 58 to 71% of the harvest. This year, we are at a record low 43% no matter how we estimate the final 2023 California tomato processing crop.
It has been great to see significantly higher grower yields this year with California's tomato processing factories running at full capacity since the late start in mid-July. Even Hurricane Hillary's brief interruption in August had minimal impact on our progress, many growers surpassing their historical average yield. Morning Star has taken a proactive role taking in excess tons above contract from both within and outside grower network, with the aim of 100% harvest, our vision is clear, maximize yield, and maximize value for California tomato growers and our customers.
Shifting to inventories and consumption, we have to ask ourselves, what are the implications of a 12.9 million short ton crop for both California and the global market? With domestic consumption of California's processed tomatoes of rough 10 million short tons plus exports accounting for 1.5 million to 2 million tons, this crop size signals the beginning of replenishing our safety stock inventories. Achieving this crop size is a step forward, but meeting both domestic and global demands will still require a year or two of inventory buildup. Regardless of whether we hit the 12.9 million ton target, the industry is poised to bolster inventories assuring customers of California's reliable supply.
The California processing tomato industry remains a vital sector both domestically and internationally.”
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Source: The Morning Star Packing Company